Some of the questions I’ve been getting, and their answers:
1. Are you in the military?
No, I’m not in the military, although I was a few years ago. I’m going to Afghanistan as a government contractor.
1.a— No, I don’t work for Blackwater, nor would I.
2. Is your family coming with you?
I will not be bringing my family with me- I’m going alone, for the whole year. I can’t imagine taking Kiddo to a war zone- even on an embassy detail, which this is definitely not. They will be home in Baltimore, and I will be out there, missing them.
3. Can I send you things? What’s the address?
Of course you can send me things! Please, do! I love mail. I don’t have the address yet, but I’ll post it as soon as I know. I’ll have an APO address overseas- which means it’ll cost the same as shipping something to New York. And I’m not the only one here- my buddy/ co- worker Micky could use some love, too. Yarn, roving, music, lip balm, chocolate, letters, cookies, and sunscreen are always needed!
Here are the rules: please avoid sending anything with alcoholic content, anything that can in any way be considered pornographic (example: Maxim, most workout magazines, silly racy cards- all considered semi- pornograhic), any images of Mohammad, no weapons, and finally, no pork products.
I know what you’re thinking: she can’t get bacon through the mail? Unspeakable! And I agree, wholeheartedly! It is a travesty. But rules are rules, so please: don’t send me any bacon. It can only bring heartache and result in the waste of good bacon (which, in the end, equals even more heartache).
4. Will you be able to vote in the upcoming election?
I will be able to vote and I definitely intend to do so.
5. Where exactly are you going?
I’ll be in northern Afghanistan.
6. What exactly will you be doing?
There’s this thing called OPSEC- OPerational SECurity. It’s based off that whole “loose lips sink ships” concept- the idea that harmless, casual talk can endanger a mission, place, or people, and the deploying community takes it pretty seriously. It’s not that what I’ll be doing is some big secret- it’s really, really not. It’s that it’s just not the brightest idea to be talking about it in a forum like this. Some of the people close to me know what I’m doing, and that’s just fine; I don’t think it’s appropriate to broadcast in a blog, though. And it’s not terribly exciting stuff- in reality, I expect the work to be rather monotonous.
I can tell you what I’m not doing, definitely: I will not be on convoy. I will not be an interrogator. I am not a doctor, or a nurse, or a phlebotomist, although I always liked that word and considered taking a few courses just to have an excuse to say it more often (example, “No, I can’t go to the party; I have my phlebotomy course tonight.”)
I will not be shooting a gun unless someone shoots at me, and evenstill, it is to be avoided; additionally, it is relatively unlikely anyone will be shooting at me at this location.
7. What if you get hurt, or sick, or have an allergic reaction, etc?
I will have access to immediate medical care, so if I break my leg climbing some damn fool thing (highly likely) someone will be there to take care of me. We don’t need to be flown to a location for medical care, which is an important point.
8. Is there diet chocolate cherry Dr Pepper in Afghanistan?
No, I don’t think there will be any diet cherry chocolate Dr Pepper there, and that does make me sad. I do firmly believe that I have the fundamental right to a chocolatey- cherry flavored low- calorie beverage while working for my nation, yes- or that if I don’t have that fundamental right at this time, it is totally something to work on for next time. I’m working up a petition now.
(Also, I know how bad it is for me but really, I don’t care. It’s just too damn good. It’s like tootsie rolls that you can drink. Think about that.)
9. What about knitting/ spinning?
I will be bringing a few drop spindles with me, and spinning my own yarn. I also have a supply of handpainted yarn that I made for myself for just this occasion, and I’m looking forward to using that up, too. And then there’s stash. I bought a interchangeable needle set for this trip, too- the Knitpicks wooden Harmony set, which I think is ugly as sin but a dream to knit with. I won’t be dyeing, but I’ll be taking pictures non- stop to prepare for a series of colorways based on this time. Also, there are some lovely shops that do ship to APO addresses- Purl, for example, as well as others. So I’m pretty hooked up there.
10. Are you scared?
Yes, I’m scared. I’m also more than a little excited; I’ve wanted to do this for a while.
11. What about your fiber/ yarn business?
I absolutely do intend to keep moving forward with the business. That’s part of why I’m doing this. I’m going to make more money and personally spend less, which will help with my two biggest goals right now: finishing the house and going after my business full time. It’s just on hiatus for a year.
12. Who is this Micky guy? Why didn’t we hear about him before?
Micky is going to be my team lead/ co- worker while we’re in Afghanistan. He and I have spent probably the last 5 years or so working together; when I left the service and became a civilian, I recruited him to work at my current company. He’s already in place, setting things up.
13. When do you come home?
This is a year- long trip, although I’ll be coming home at the 6 month point about 2 weeks- that’s call my mid- tour. If anything happens or if I just plain decide I’ve had enough I can choose to come home. Obviously I don’t see that happening- I made a promise, S is in good health, etc. But if something happened I would be able to get back. All surprises aside, I should be back pretty close to a year after I arrive in Afghanistan, a few weeks more, maybe.
I know there are more questions out there, but that’s all I have for right now. Drop any questions you might have in the comments, and I’ll add them into the FAQ!